I don’t know how to talk about what happened here in Tucson yesterday without making someone mad, but I’m going to try.
As a mental health advocate and person who is currently educating high school kids about depression and suicide prevention my initial thoughts (after my shock and sadness) about the gunman was that he must be mentally ill, and as most of you know I am passionate about people receiving proper care for mental illness and reducing the stigma surrounding these issues. So, initially I was going to write this blog about just that, the inequalities of the treatment of people with mental illness and the shortcomings of the system, but as the weekend progressed I have been struck more by the calls for compassion and the need to temper the on-going bitterness and hate filled rhetoric that seems to be all too prevalent in our society.
Some blame it on the media, some blame it on the Internet and some blame it on dysfunctional family environments. All I know is that I don’t think this is the time nor place to start placing blame and focusing anger on anyone or any one entity. If anything, now is the time for us to focus on restoring Peace, Love and Harmony to society.
Yes, some will think I’m an idealist with no grasp of reality, but it is reality that motivates me to wish and pray for more compassion and tolerance in our world. There is darkness, but just the light of one small match can illuminate a room. I think we all have the potential, no the responsibility as humans to be a positive force. I don’t know of any situation where more violence and hate can solve a problem.
Hopefully this senseless tragedy that happened in my home town yesterday will be a catalyst to help us to find our way back to the loving and kind humans were are meant to be. As mental health advocates teach in Crisis Intervention Training, rather than escalating the situation, let’s try and de-escalate and bring reason and calmness to the situation.
Congresswoman Giffords has the skill to do just that. I witnessed her ability to reason and respectfully disagree with irate, inflamed constituents at town hall meetings over the last year. Gabe Zimmerman, her now deceased aid, was a master at conveying how important the well being of our community was to him. When Congresswom Giffords was unable to attend some of the mental health community events she was invited to, Gabe provided the same kind of support and understanding that she would have.
In memory of Gabe and the others that died yesterday and out of respect for Congresswoman Giffords, I think it could be a new day for our country if we focus on the healing rather than the negativity.